Cross train your quick service restaurant staff and become that successful franchisee! Other franchisees are achieving mid to low 20s labor cost percentage by cross training.

I had a conversation with a quick service restaurant franchisee on Tuesday. This guy is a superstar! He is running an Oporto (burger place) location at low 20% labor cost percentage. I asked him how he’s able to run so lean and his answer was: cross training.

This franchisee hires people for front of house or back of house. Once they are competent in their section he cross trains them for the other section. People from the kitchen he trains in customer service and on the tills, and people from the front he trains to make burgers & fries.

#1: Bottlenecks are eliminated

When bottlenecks occur they tend to happen in one area. There’s too many orders and the kitchen falls behind. Or there are lots of customers lining up that haven’t ordered yet. Having all staff cross-trained means a kitchen staff member can jump out the front and serve customers for a short time. Customer service staff can go behind the counter and help out in the kitchen.

#2: Staff are more adaptable

Cross training your staff means they feel empowered because you’re giving them skills they can use for life. Because they are able to do more tasks in the restaurant, they feel as if they can do everything. They are masters of the restaurant! Plus you’ll quickly identify those team members who are ready and willing to step up to management – the natural leaders.

#3: Staff appreciate how hard both sections work

Having staff work between two sections by cross-training in your quick service restaurant gives staff an appreciation for the hard work put in by both sections. If there’s a long line of customers the kitchen staff can see and appreciate how hard the front of house team is working. If there’s a big stack of tickets and the kitchen team is flying, your front of house team knows how hard they’re working because they’ve been there – and they can go behind and slot in to the team to take the pressure off.

#4: Staff work together as a team

It’s too easy in a two- or three-team high-performance environment to blame the other team for bad performance. We’ve all heard the excuses, “They didn’t pull their weight” or “They made so many mistakes”. Cross training reduces this blame game.

When all team members can cross over to the other side and help out, staff feel like they are a cohesive team. If the kitchen mucks up a few orders a customer service person can jump back to help fix the mistakes. A long line of customers means a kitchen guy can come forward and help convert customers to orders. Everyone feels like part of the one team.

#5: Your store efficiency increases

The ultimate aim of cross training your quick service restaurant staff is to increase your store efficiency. You’ll see this reflected in your labor cost percentage and in your labor efficiency. Because everyone is working together as a team, they help each other out, they fix each other’s mistakes, and when things get really busy the team works together to acheive their KPIs. High performance teams are pretty special to watch. Even more special if you’ve put together that team yourself!

Cross train quick service restaurant staff

Cross-training is an amazing method to make your quick service restaurant team feel like one team. I was blown away when this franchisee brought up this method on Tuesday!

What do you think? Have you cross-trained your staff? How did it work out for you?